Rabbi Abraham Cooper and Rabbi Marvin Hier: The corona pandemic and peace in the Middle East
The rapidly unfolding global tragedy of the CoronaVirus pandemic sheds the light of reality as to why Peace in the Holy Land remains a far-off dream: Israel is confronted by Palestinian leaders who for decades refuse to accept the legitimacy of their Jewish neighbors. They teach their children in word and deed to embrace death over life.
The threat against Israel from Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists has been guided and exacerbated by their paymasters in Tehran whose leaders believe the Jewish state uses “demons”. That regime as well has proven over and over again it also doesn’t give a damn about the lives of its people. For these thugs hate always trumps hope.
But all this doesn’t mean we have to accept that tyrants and terrorists will always dictate the narrative.
We recall that just a few short months ago, we prayed and danced in a Synagogue just across the Gulf from Iran. It was the first minyan in Bahrain’s capital since 1948. (The authors are pictured in the video).
We watch in awe and wonderment as frontline-medical and scientific personnel– Jew and Arab– work and pray side-by-side in Israel’s hospitals, alongside their ambulances, united in the struggle to defeat the unseen enemy that has stolen the joy of this year’s Passover, Easter and Ramadan and that threatens each and every one of us.
So, we tell our friends and ourselves to stop feeling helpless and hopeless.
At this year’s Passover Seder or before it, we should be teaching our cooped-up children to always identify- not with bigots or bullies- but rather with the unsung heroes who selflessly strive to save us and all humanity from the 11th plague.
Israel’s death toll from coronavirus rose to 43 Saturday, with 7,589 people diagnosed with COVID-19.
Two women were reported to have died of the virus in the morning: an 88-year-old woman at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital and a 67-year-old woman at Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center. A man, 76, died at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon close to noon.
The 88-year-old woman was the fifth victim to come from the Mishan assisted living facility in the southern city of Beersheba.
She was later named as Holocaust survivor Dr. Nelia Kravitz, who worked as a physician at Soroka Medical Center for 20 years.
Dr Nelia Kravitz, who died after contracting the coronavirus at the Mishan assisted living facility in Beersheba.(Courtesy)
“It was not possible to contact the Mishan facility, and only later were we informed she was transferred to Soroka. We said goodbye to her over the telephone,” Kravitz’s son Micha told the Kan public broadcaster.
The Health Ministry said Saturday morning that 115 patients were in serious condition, with 98 on ventilators. At least 427 Israelis have recovered from the disease.
Noah Rothman: The Rise of the Immunity Caste
How does this all end, you (and everyone else) ask? Well, the miserable realists answer back, it doesn’t—not until there’s a vaccine, at least.
Given the skyrocketing unemployment rate and the prospect of GDP contraction of between 20 and 30 percent, “for the foreseeable future” is palatable only to those who concern themselves exclusively with public health. If you’re in the business of ensuring there is a society left to reactivate after this initial lockdown has passed, getting people safely back to work is both a priority and a conundrum. How do you reignite the nation’s economic engine without jeopardizing the public and, ultimately, damaging the economy further? The answer to this riddle has some Western political leaders contemplating a fraught stopgap measure: immunity registries.
The advent of approved serological tests that can determine whether someone contracted this unique Coronavirus and developed the antibodies that presumably render them immune to future infection has opened this avenue up to policymakers. Apparently, they’re taking it.
The German government plans to introduce “immunity certificates” to COVID-19 survivors that would allow license holders to reenter society. The U.K., too, will reportedly provide residents who test positive for Coronavirus antibodies with “immunity passports,” liberating recipients from lockdown. For some American policymakers, these seem like worthy models to follow. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, for example, has repeatedly entertained slowly reopening society to “people who can get antibody tests.”
In theory, this would seem to be the best of all the terrible options before policymakers. And for a nation with a history of codified social stratification, it might work. Germany’s experience is amenable to imposing these temporary stations on individuals. Class is an unseen but ubiquitous force in Britain, too. But the United States does not have a similar experience with social castes. Its class structure is permeable; indeed, the country’s national identity is predicated on transcending the categories into which we are consigned by conditions beyond our control. And this new class—the immune—is permeable. But public health officials aren’t going to like how the public goes about penetrating this stratum.
Facebook and Twitter’s content policies show how a lack of clarity has been detrimental, and where more clarity would help roll back hatred and even prevent violence.
Facebook’s Community Standards detail its “hate speech” policy, which bars attacks on groups of people based on race, religion, sexual orientation and other protected categories. But while some anti-Semitic content falls under their definitions, conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic smears replacing the word “Jews” with “Zionists” do not.
Twitter’s rules specifically prohibit the use of Holocaust imagery in targeted harassment, as well as hate symbols such as swastikas. But while Twitter is careful about content related to the Holocaust, its rules do not prohibit anti-Semitic conspiracies, which rise in popularity whenever social or economic tensions are high.
The account of notorious anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, for example, is still active, despite Twitter’s decision to remove his “verified” badge and broaden its policies to include “dehumanizing” language against religious groups.
Incorporating the IHRA definition directly into their policies and assigning a staff member responsible for overseeing its enforcement could help these platforms tackle anti-Semitic conspiracies in two main ways. First, by properly defining anti-Semitism. Under the IHRA framework, for instance, blaming “Zionists” for biological contagious diseases is clearly anti-Semitic. But under current social media policies, it’s unclear at best if these posts violate the terms of service.
Second, social media companies can implement proactive tools to remove anti-Semitic content — such as by flagging certain topics or keywords for review — before it spreads. Today, the system requires users to report content, which is only then evaluated by an algorithm or another human being — a reactive approach to a problem that requires both a reactive and proactive response.
Social media companies that give bigoted individuals easy access to a wide audience have a moral obligation to ensure that dangerous rhetoric isn’t allowed to thrive on their platforms. Failing to do so makes them complicit, at least in part, in the anti-Semitic
Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said Saturday that management of the coronavirus pandemic should be transferred immediately to his office and the Israel Defense Forces below it.
“If we want to cope with this [pandemic], if we want to reopen the Israeli economy, then all responsibility for managing the coronavirus crisis — from A to Z — must be transferred to the IDF and the Defense Ministry as quickly as possible,” Bennett said.
“We’re in a war. We’re in a tough biological war, against nature,” he told Channel 12. “But it’s a war with colossal logistics. With a million elderly people.
The Health Ministry should help determine policies. But it’s not designed as an operational hierarchy, he said. “We wouldn’t let a geologist run a [nationwide] operation to save the people from an earthquake.”
Bennett noted that the IDF is currently deployed in the predominately ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, is involved in testing and is taking responsibility in facilities for the elderly, which are viewed as particularly vulnerable to an outbreak.
“The greatest lesson to learn from other countries is to appoint one person to run the whole operation,” he said, apparently referring to himself. “We’re in a war the likes of which we’ve never known.”
“We want the testing system to succeed and so it should have been transferred to the IDF a month ago,” Bennett said. “This is not just a matter of swabs, it’s much more complex. The IDF and the Defense Ministry know this kind of work.”
The Health Ministry on Saturday reportedly instructed Israeli hospitals to prepare to reuse protective gear due to a shrinking supply of equipment used by medical personnel while treating coronavirus patients.
In a letter sent to hospitals, the ministry’s deputy director-general warned growing demand across the globe for protective equipment could leave Israel without a fresh supply, according to Channel 12 news.
“The rise in demand and the damage to the supply chain could lead to a swift depletion of equipment in the countries of the world, without a proper ability to replenish supplies,” Itamar Grotto was quoted writing in the letter.
The ministry reportedly recommended that hospitals reuse face coverings such as the much sought after N95 face masks, which can block up to 95 percent of airborne particles.
The letter from Grotto said the used face coverings should be checked to make sure they are intact, washed with water and soap, dried and disinfected before being put in a plastic bag with the name of the worker who wore it for potential reuse, the network reported.
The ministry was not yet recommending that medical personnel reuse protective overalls and fluid resistant hospital robes, but said used ones should be stored in protective containers in case they are needed, the report said.
Like in other countries dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, there have been concerns in Israel about a shortage of medical supplies needed to treat patients with the virus, such as masks and ventilators.
Propaganda doesn’t begin to describe this irresponsible diatribe. Perhaps @CrisisGroup @Rob_Malley should stop treating Palestinians like children and acknowledge terror tunnels, rockets made out of stolen aid, instead of being used for hospitals, schools. Exploiting #Corona https://t.co/p7KLwNew9t
— Prof Gerald M Steinberg (@GeraldNGOM) April 3, 2020
Raising awareness about #CoronaVirus in #Gaza by distributing pamphlets and gathering children together 🤦♀️.
Uploaded 3 March 2020.#TheGazaYouDontSee
Source: https://t.co/unQ4EnH9DU pic.twitter.com/PLAyc9z8vP
— Imshin (@imshin) April 3, 2020
China has been appointed to an elite United Nations human rights group despite the country’s routine abuse of human rights, stifling of free speech, and imprisonment of dissidents.
Jiang Duan, a minister at China’s mission to the U.N., was selected to serve on the U.N. Human Rights Council’s Consultative Group, a five-nation body that plays a key role in selecting human rights investigators who will oversee abuses across the globe.
With a spot on the committee, China will be in a prime position to thwart investigations into its own human rights abuses.
“Allowing China’s oppressive and inhumane regime to choose the world investigators on freedom of speech, arbitrary detention, and enforced disappearances is like making a pyromaniac into the town fire chief,” Hillel Neuer, executive director of U.N. Watch, an organization dedicated to performing oversight work on the U.N., said in a statement.
As a member of the Consultative Group, China will help select people to “investigate, monitor, and publicly report” on human rights issues, according to U.N. Watch. This includes matters of free speech and religion.
“How can China be involved in choosing the U.N. special rapporteur on the protection of freedom of opinion and expression, when the regime routinely imposes draconian censorship, and seeks to shut down dissenting voices?” Neuer asked.
China will now also help vet candidates for a range of key U.N. human rights positions.
“It’s absurd and immoral for the U.N. to allow China’s oppressive government a key role in selecting officials who shape international human rights standards and report on violations worldwide,” Neuer said.
“Never again should we depend on the rest of the world for essential medicines and countermeasures.”
Sadly China has been allowed to develop a near monopoly on the pharmaceutical supply chain.
— Rita Panahi (@RitaPanahi) April 3, 2020
Official Chinese statistics put Wuhan’s coronavirus death toll at 2,563. Evidence coming out of the city suggests it was actually more than 40,000. Our latest: https://t.co/6D2zHtAd17
— Anna Fifield (@annafifield) April 3, 2020
— Pradheep J. Shanker (@Neoavatara) April 4, 2020
#Russian medical supply delivery narrative is deflated by disclosure that US paid for supplies #MEMRICoronavirus https://t.co/QmkpfFYywo pic.twitter.com/fDNcFCcRCM
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) April 3, 2020
Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Tex.) joined the chorus of congressional voices pushing for the WHO to implement reforms in the wake of its coronavirus response.
“The World Health Organization has consistently bent to the will of the Chinese Communist Party at the expense of global health and of containing the spread of the coronavirus, from downplaying the extent of the virus to systematically excluding Taiwan,” a spokesperson for Cruz’s office told the Free Beacon. “Sen. Cruz believes that the WHO has lost the credibility necessary for it to be effective, and a reevaluation of its leadership is urgently called for.”
WHO officials have avoided questions about their close relationship with China.
Last week, WHO senior adviser to the director-general Bruce Aylward appeared to pretend not to hear a reporter’s question about whether the WHO would consider admitting Taiwan as a member.
China has long blocked Taiwan from joining the WHO; while Taiwan is a self-governing nation, China considers it a rogue province. When the reporter repeated her question, Aylward said they’d already discussed China enough and asked her to move on to the next question.
Aylward also said in February that if he had coronavirus, he would want to be treated in China.
Sen. Rick Scott (R., Fla.) called this week for the United States to cut off its funding of the WHO because it helped “Communist China cover up” the pandemic’s extent.
The United States is the largest contributor to the United Nations agency, giving $893 million in 2018-19, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. Despite contributing far less to the WHO budget (only $86 million in 2019), China has stepped up its influence efforts at the United Nations while the Trump administration has scaled them back.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), one of the most vocal critics of China’s virus response, told the Free Beacon earlier this week that the communist regime is due for a “reckoning.”
“China, through its dishonesty and corruption, turned what could have been a manageable local outbreak into a global pandemic that will ultimately cost not only our people, but the world, trillions and trillions of dollars, and hundreds of thousands if not millions of lives,” Cotton said.
Taiwan is a leader in preventing the spread of #COVID19. The United States and #Taiwan hope to share the #TaiwanModel with countries around the world. Taiwan has a role to play in global health and should be a World Health Assembly observer https://t.co/oqxH8Xn3tU
— EAP Bureau (@USAsiaPacific) April 3, 2020
China had it’s first recorded coronavirus case on November 17 (could be earlier)
The very next day The Wuhan Institute of Virology in China posted a job opening “for scientists to come research the relationship between the coronavirus and bats” https://t.co/d1pmxPxarP
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) April 3, 2020
Singapore — which has had one of the earliest and best responses of any country — is going back into lockdown https://t.co/U0GMoKhDEZ
— Joe Weisenthal (@TheStalwart) April 3, 2020
With democracies in peril across the globe, effective, impartial, and honest human rights advocacy is more needed than ever. When human rights advocacy is done right, it can have tremendous benefits. Just consider the cases of the late Andrei Sakharov or Natan Sharansky during the Cold War, or the international outcry on behalf of African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela.
When human rights advocacy is done wrong, however, the second-order effects can be tremendous. Autocrats and abusers can amplify an organization’s dishonesty or mistakes to delegitimize not only the flawed reports, but also those which are true. Thirty years ago, distinguished political scientist Guenter Lewy wrote Peace and Revolution, a study about how many pacifist organizations betrayed their true principles for the sake of politics. After the American Friends Service Committee, for example, embraced the genocidal Khmer Rouge, who should trust them on North Korea or the Hamas-run Gaza Strip?
In recent years, Human Rights Watch has also strayed from the objective to the subjective and from the neutral to the corrupt.
More than a decade ago, Sarah Leah Whitson, then-executive director for the Middle East and North Africa at Human Rights Watch and now managing director at the Quincy Institute, sought to raise money in Saudi Arabia by promising to be even more critical of Israel. When exposed, Human Rights Watch backed off that action but, last month, Ken Roth, the organization’s executive director was at it again, agreeing to limit the group’s work on gays in the Middle East in exchange for a cash infusion from a Saudi businessman.
This is not the first time Roth has subordinated his group’s mission for the sake of politics or cash. The rot at Human Rights Watch has gone so deep that the group has even partnered with and incorporated reporting from a group launched by a designated al Qaeda financier. The problem has grown so bad under Roth that, in 2009, the group’s founder took to the pages of the New York Times to lament how off the rails Human Rights Watch had become. Too many of its reports today are short on methodology and long on ideology.
This brings us to its October 2019 report “’Maximum Pressure’: US Economic Sanctions Harm Iranians’ Right to Health,” which has been increasingly cited to show that the United States should lift its sanctions to help Iran fight the coronavirus crisis.
A leading US expert on Iran said a report authored by Human Rights Watch claiming economic sanctions should be lifted on Tehran, which has been cited in connection with the coronavirus pandemic, should be dismissed because of its slipshod research.
Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, wrote in the Washington Examiner last week that “anyone still citing Human Rights Watch should look at the report’s methodology section: “Human Rights Watch requested permission to travel to Iran to conduct this research. Iranian authorities did not respond to Human Rights Watch’s request to visit Iran or subsequent requests for information.”’
He continued, “Accordingly, over the course of a year, the group ‘interviewed six Iranian medical professionals,’ either from afar or while they traveled abroad. It also spoke with ‘four other experts on US government policymaking on Iran.’”
Rubin said “Given that such policymaking has been the subject of great partisan debate for four decades, it might be useful to know with whom Human Rights Watch spoke, in this case, as none would face jeopardy for talking. Did they represent an ideological spectrum?”
The HRW October 2019 report titled “’Maximum Pressure’: US Economic Sanctions Harm Iranians’ Right to Health,” has been cited, wrote Rubin, “to show that the United States should lift its sanctions to help Iran fight the coronavirus crisis.”
Pakistani authorities on Friday ordered the four men convicted of the 2002 murder of American-Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl to be detained for three months, despite a lower court’s ruling to overturn their convictions.
The High Court in the province of Sindh acquitted the four on Thursday. The group includes British national Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was sentenced to death in 2002 for masterminding Pearl’s murder. The other three were sentenced to life.
The provincial government of Sindh issued the order to arrest and detain the four before they were released from prison.
“The government of Sindh has sufficient reason that Ahmed Omar Sheikh and Fahad Nasim Ahmed, Syed Salman Saqib, Sheikh Muhammad Adil be arrested and detained for a period of three months from the date of arrest (April 2, 2020),” a top official of the department said in the order.
The official cited concern that the released men may act “against the interest of the country.”
The law to keep them in detention is one that the Pakistani government has often used to keep high-profile terrorists in custody after being unable to successfully prosecute them in court.
The United States denounced Thursday’s court acquittal of the four, with the top US diplomat for South Asia writing on Twitter that it was “an affront to victims of terrorism everywhere.”
Faiz Shah, the prosecutor-general in Sindh, said immediately after the court’s decision on Thursday that he would launch an appeal — a move supported by Daniel Pearl’s family.
Two people were killed and four others injured in a knife attack in the southeastern French town of Romans-sur-Isère on Saturday, the mayor said.
A man armed with a knife attacked people out shopping in the southeastern French town of Romans-sur-Isère on Saturday, killing two and wounding five, French officials said.
“This morning, a man embarked a terrorist journey, killing 2 people and wounding 5 others,” Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said during a visit to the town.
The attack took place in the morning outside a bakery where customers had queued, according to Mayor Marie-Hélène Thoraval who said the assailant had been arrested.
Witnesses at the scene said a knief-wielding man arrived at the local bakery while residents were queuing, and began to attack people randomly. The attacker then proceeded to nearby stores and stabbed others. The incident is currently under investigation, and it is not yet known what circumstances led to the attack
Michael Totten: The Year the Sky Fell – Review of ‘Black Wave’ by Kim Ghattas
In the Greater Middle East, the year 1979 felt like the end of the world. Americans know it as the ominous date of the Iranian Revolution, the hostage crisis, and the rise of the grim-faced, murderous Ayatollah Khomeini. But those weren’t the only pivotal events that unfolded back then. The scarcely known siege of Mecca occurred at the same time, and it was equally dreadful—and fateful. In an effort to appease an armed insurrection, the Saudi government sharply reversed what precious little social progress had been made and, in a revolution from above, transformed the country into an even more regressive and repressive place than it already was. The Saudi and Iranian governments, once grudging allies, became sworn, bitter enemies determined to export their own revolutions to the whole Muslim world, across the Middle East and beyond, including to Afghanistan, which coincidentally had just been invaded by the Soviet Union.
Nearly all the worst disasters that have swept across the Muslim world in the past four decades can be traced at least in part back to that year. That’s the thesis of the masterful book Black Wave, by Beirut-born, Emmy Award–winning journalist Kim Ghattas. She traveled from Egypt and Iraq to Iran and Pakistan, and no matter where she went, the people with whom she spoke let loose a tsunami of emotion when she asked how that year had devastated them and their countries. She felt as if she were “conducting national or regional therapy.…Everyone had a story about how 1979 had wrecked their lives, their marriage, their education, including those born after that year.”
Even close observers of the region can be forgiven for not quite realizing that things are much worse now than they used to be. The Middle East in the mid-20th century was hardly an idyllic utopia. Authoritarianism was the norm, with rule by Turkish and European empires only recently shrugged off. But aside from the Arab–Israeli conflict, the wars were less endless, the culture more open, and sectarian mass murder a thing of the history books. Optimists weren’t laughed out of the room. Beirut, Cairo, and even Kabul enjoyed semi-liberal golden ages before sliding into decline. Iran under the leadership of the authoritarian yet progressive Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi was pro-Western, had friendly relations with Israel, and seemed to have a shining future ahead of it. One could argue with a straight face that whole swaths of the Muslim world were in better shape than half of Europe, the Communist half with a Soviet boot on its neck.
Ghattas treads familiar ground describing the Iranian Revolution and its cruel aftermath, but the Saudi half of the story is less well-known to her Western audience. While the ayatollah railed against the Shah and his Western allies in Tehran, 300 totalitarian-minded Saudi insurgents from the spectacularly backward Najd desert captured the Grand Mosque in Mecca, took thousands of hostages, and engaged in a deadly standoff with the government. The royal family couldn’t break the siege on its own, so it resorted to summoning French paratroopers—to a city where non-Muslims are otherwise banned forever from entering—to lay waste to the rebels. What could have and arguably should have been an isolated event instead marked a turning point.
After police in the Liaquatabad neighborhood of Karachi in Pakistan tried to stop Friday prayers due to #CoronaVirus, policemen were chased out by angry believers who refuse to listen to authorities to temporary halt congregational prayers.
— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) April 3, 2020
Remember this 4 months ago-
Tory majority 81
Jeremy Corbyn did that.
That’s his legacy. That’s it.
The Brits are not terrorist supporters. They don’t dine with Iranian extremists or hate Jews. They rejected Corbynism.
Good riddance Jezza.
— David Collier (@mishtal) April 4, 2020
New British Labour Party leader Keir Starmer tackled antisemitism immediately upon election Saturday, as he promised to root out that scourge from the party that in the past has been charged with fostering hatred toward Jews.
“Antisemitism has been a stain on our party. I have seen the grief that it’s brought to so many Jewish communities. On behalf of the Labour Party,” Starmer said.
“I am sorry and I will tear out this poison by its roots and judge success by the return of our Jewish members and those who felt that they could no longer support us,” he added.
In a letter to the Labour Party parliamentarians that was posted on Twitter, he also asked for the help of the politicians in his party to rebuild trust with the Jewish community.
Foreign Minister Israel Katz immediately congratulated Starmer for his victory.
“I hope he will keep his promise to fight the antisemitism that has blossomed in the party in recent years and that he will strengthen the UK-Israel friendship, as past Labour leaders have done,” Katz said.
Starmer also has family ties to Judaism. In speaking of his wife Victoria Alexander in a past interview with the British paper The Jewish Chronicle, Starmer said, “As you probably know my wife’s family is Jewish. On her father’s side there are bar mitzvahs, synagogues – there’s all the traditions.”
What Keir labour leader said about Israeli peace plan ! warning bells @Campaign4T #israel @starmerwatch https://t.co/4E1qOcgvBR
— Eye On Antisemitism (@AntisemitismEye) April 4, 2020
Seif Da’na, a Palestinian-American Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin claimed, “Hitler did not do anything out of the ordinary.” Why is this person shaping young minds on an American college campus? pic.twitter.com/CY5aWnIK1N
— BDS Report (@BDSreport) April 3, 2020
WHY is ABC-News asking a Muslim spokesjihadist from CAIR about “anti-Asian” discrimination during the China Virus pandemic? https://t.co/KupTtwnYVt https://t.co/J8DVrKHevR
— barenakedislam (@barenakedislam) April 3, 2020
And the good news continues https://t.co/Txy75PrQR3
— (((David Lange))) (@Israellycool) April 4, 2020
Good thing to tweet a week before Passover. pic.twitter.com/poqHtnPWLD
— neontaster (@neontaster) April 3, 2020
An influential Bishop in Italy has weighed in on the controversy surrounding a painting produced by an Italian artist, Giovanni Gasparro. The painting, which Gasparro produced in late 2019 and early 2020 is titled “The Martyrdom of St. Simon of Trento for Jewish Ritual Murder.”
Bishop Ambrogio Spreafico, who serves as president of the Episcopal Commission of the Italian Episcopal Conference for ecumenism and dialogue, denounced the painting as “a sad demonstration of how much the human mind chases old stereotypes.” (The Bishop’s denunciation of Gasparro’s antisemitic painting was published in Chiesa, an influential Catholic newspaper in Italy.)
The painting depicts a blood libel based on debunked accusations leveled at the Jewish community living in Trent in 1475. Fifteen Jews were the victims of judicially sanctioned murder as a result of this libel. Most of the victims confessed under torture.
Sadly, Gasparro, who posted images of his painting on his Facebook page on March 25, 2020, is a well-known painter in Italy and has done a substantial work for Catholic places of worship in that country, which makes Bishop Spreafico’s robust condemnation particularly compelling.
Faced with this mystifying phenomenon, media outlets have turned to psychologists to explain why people are cramming their shelves with a household good that has nothing to do with the pandemic. Read the coverage and you’ll encounter all sorts of fascinating concepts, from “zero risk bias” to “anticipatory anxiety.” It’s “driven by fear” and a “herd mentality,” the BBC scolded. The libertarian Mises Institute took the opportunity to blame anti-gouging laws. The Atlantic published a short documentary harking back to the great toilet paper scare of 1973, which was driven by misinformation.
Most outlets agreed that the spike in demand would be short-lived, subsiding as soon as the hoarders were satiated.
No doubt there’s been some panic-buying, particularly once photos of empty store shelves began circulating on social media. There have also been a handful of documented cases of true hoarding. But you don’t need to assume that most consumers are greedy or irrational to understand how coronavirus would spur a surge in demand. And you can stop wondering where in the world people are storing all that Quilted Northern.
There’s another, entirely logical explanation for why stores have run out of toilet paper — one that has gone oddly overlooked in the vast majority of media coverage. It has nothing to do with psychology and everything to do with supply chains. It helps to explain why stores are still having trouble keeping it in stock, weeks after they started limiting how many a customer could purchase.
In short, the toilet paper industry is split into two, largely separate markets: commercial and consumer. The pandemic has shifted the lion’s share of demand to the latter. People actually do need to buy significantly more toilet paper during the pandemic — not because they’re making more trips to the bathroom, but because they’re making more of them at home. With some 75% of the U.S. population under stay-at-home orders, Americans are no longer using the restrooms at their workplace, in schools, at restaurants, at hotels, or in airports.
When the quarantine is finally over… pic.twitter.com/6HaJXxwbuV
— ForAmerica (@ForAmerica) April 3, 2020
Back in January, when it was still possible for public officials to work on things unrelated to the novel coronavirus, USAID was gearing up for a year of increased outreach and cooperation with the private sector. For Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick — who has held the No. 2 post at the U.S. Agency for International Development since early last year — tightening the bond between the government and the business community has been the guiding principle of her career, dating back to her days as an intern at the U.S. embassy in Moscow in 1989, just before the fall of the Iron Curtain.
But that was B.C. — “before coronavirus,” as Glick describes it. Now, USAID’s sole focus is the global response to the coronavirus pandemic, working in poorer parts of the world that have not yet been hit hard by the virus and in areas that have already been impacted but lack the capacity to do testing.
After the reported mismanagement of a shipment of personal protective equipment from USAID to Thailand, last week Vice President Mike Pence put a hold on all shipments of such gear overseas, saying it is needed in America first. This is an adjustment for USAID, which is used to handling outbreaks of diseases like Ebola and Zika in other countries — but not here in the U.S. “When I hear about docs and nurses in the United States having to reuse their masks and gowns, that is disheartening to me as an American,” Glick says. The order from the Trump administration to first dispatch this gear within the U.S. is meant “to help the international response while simultaneously protecting the home front,” Glick explains. “We can’t do anything to stop coronavirus if we’re not healthy ourselves.”
With missions in 111 countries and regions around the world, USAID’s two priorities are global development and disaster relief, akin to an “international FEMA.” But for Glick, whose three-decade career has included stints at the State Department, IBM, and an international development nonprofit, USAID does more than provide aid and assistance to developing nations around the world. It also spreads the distinctly American gospel of prosperity, self-reliance and free markets.
Israel will subsidize an emergency airlift of millions of eggs to the country ahead of the Passover festival that begins next week amid severe shortages due to coronavirus restrictions, the Prime Minister’s Office announced Friday.
“At the behest of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, the Finance and Agriculture ministries will subsidize the import of eggs via air from Europe to Israel,” the statement said.
The statement blamed the shortage on recent difficulties of importing eggs from Italy and Spain, two of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus. Israel is usually self-sufficient in eggs, but the most recent shortages have been blamed on panic buying and hoarding.
Channel 12 reported that 10 cargo planes will be used to bring in the eggs ahead of the Passover festival that starts April 8, noting that there is an estimated shortage of some 30 million eggs.
For the past two weeks, Israelis have reported widespread egg shortages throughout the country with many supermarkets out of them entirely while others only allowing shoppers to purchase one or two dozen at a time or conditioning the sale on purchasing over NIS 150 in groceries.
I don’t know who you are, Mat Krahn, or whether you’re alive or dead or both, but for me you win the Internet this week. pic.twitter.com/3FCzLGAKaR
— Niall Ferguson (@nfergus) April 3, 2020
“Hear O’ Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.”
Just beautiful! Iconic Azrieli Towers in #TelAviv, #Israel, lit up with the words of the ancient Jewish prayer “The Shema.”#ShabbatShalom dear friends. Be well, stay home and stay healthy! pic.twitter.com/tB8ONF5JuR
— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) April 3, 2020
Stay Home. Save Lives.
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